23 Dec

What is an SDK? [Simple Guide to Software Development Kits]

If you’re a developer or work in tech, you’ve probably heard of an SDK. We’re going to give you a look at what these tools are and how they work. Software development kits (SDK) are tools provided by the creator of a hardware platform, operating system, or programming language. The purpose of an SDK is to make it easier for developers to create software that works with a given platform or OS.

What is included in an SDK?

Software development kits can include resources and tools for software developers to use. These help developers better understand a platform, more easily design apps, and communicate efficiently with a device or operating system.

Items Commonly Found in an SDK

  • APIs: Application programming interfaces (API) are systems that allow two software applications to communicate with each other. These allow developers of new software to let their apps communicate with the platforms and software they will be running on.
  • Commonly used functions: Many SDKs include commonly used functions for developers to use. These may be functions used for analytics, communication with hardware, or tracking user behavior.
  • Tools for communicating with hardware: If a developer is building an app for Android devices, there may be special code needed to communicate with the Android device’s camera or buttons. This information is often enclosed in a software development kit.
  • Licenses: SDKs often include various licenses that keep people from building software under an incompatible license. Certain SDKs are incompatible with certain types of software and licenses help prevent unapproved use.
  • Beta Versions of software: Development kits may include beta versions of an operating system or other software to allow developers to test their software’s compatibility with system upgrades and other changes.
  • Rules and Requirements: The rules and requirements that an app must follow are included in the SDK so that developers can ensure their software meets the platform’s standards. For example, Apple has certain privacy and data collection restriction that all apps in its app store must adhere to.

What does an SDK do?

Software development kits (SDK) are intended to provide documentation, resources and tools for software developers to use when creating apps. SDKs can help speed up the development process by providing commonly used bits of code and detailed instructions for interacting with certain hardware or operating systems.

SDK Examples

Here are a few examples of the world’s most popular software development kits:

  • iOS SDK: Apple provides the iOS SDK as a resource for anyone who is building apps for iOS devices. This development kit includes tools like ARKit which allows developers to communicate with a device’s built-in cameras to enable augmented reality functions within their app. Also included is information about Apple’s rules and requirements for apps in its app store.
  • Facebook SDK for Android: Facebook provides this SDK for developers creating apps for Android devices. The Facebook SDK helps apps to embed Facebook functionality for features like allowing users to login with Facebook, opening links from Facebook directly in the app, and sharing content from the app via Facebook.
  • Java SDK: The current owner of Java, Oracle, provides the Java development kit for anyone using Java to create software. The kit includes useful tools for developing and testing programs written in the Java programming language.

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